Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More Evidence Regarding The Usage of Health Portals. They Need More Work and They Need To Be Really Useful.

The following report alerted me to an interesting paper.

Online portal adoption lower than expected in study of older patients

By danb
Created Jan 20 2012 - 12:17pm
Researchers have called the effectiveness of web-based interventions in healthcare into question on the heels of a study showing limited use of such features by patients, according to a study [1] published this month in the Journal of Health Communication.
The study consisted of 130 women considered to be at average risk for colorectal cancer (CRC). The women, mostly between 50 and 59 years old, were given access to a web portal with information pertaining to screening for the disease, including associated benefits and risks. The site also contained hot links to websites with additional CRC information such as the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Journal of the American Medical Association's Patient Page, among others.
Of the women who participated in the study, 83 percent indicated that they spent, on average, one hour per day on the Internet.
While the study's authors expected use of the portal to be high, only 32 patients (24.6 percent) actually logged onto the site, with a majority of those (26) only logging on once.
More here:
Here is the abstract to the full (free) paper.

Build It, and Will They Come? Unexpected Findings From a Study on a Web-Based Intervention to Improve Colorectal Cancer Screening

Free access
DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2011.571338
Available online: 04 Jan 2012


Given the extensive use of the Internet for health information, Web-based health promotion interventions are widely perceived as an effective communication channel. The authors conducted this study to determine use of a Web-based intervention intended to improve colorectal cancer screening in a population of women who are at average risk and noncompliant to current screening recommendations. The study was a randomized controlled trial designed to compare the effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening educational materials delivered using the Internet versus a printed format. In 3 years, 391 women seen for routine obstetrics/gynecology follow-up at 2 academic centers provided relevant survey information. Of these, 130 were randomized to the Web intervention. Participants received voluntary access to a password-protected, study-specific Web site that provided information about colorectal cancer and colorectal cancer screening options. The main outcome measures were self-reported and actual Web site use. Only 24.6% of women logged onto the Web site. Age was the only variable that differentiated users from nonusers (p = .03). In contrast, 16% of participants self-reported Web use. There was significant discordance between the veracity of actual and self-reported use (p = .004). Among true users, most (81%) logged on once only. These findings raise questions about how to increase use of important health communication interventions.
Full paper here:
Again we have a study where motivation and actual preparedness to engage need to be really fostered - and if they are not the outcomes described above are seen.
The old ‘build it and they will come’ does not seem to apply to the web and health advice and information, without some defined additional need for information.
Of course, given that a near to 'content-free' portal is likely to be all the PCEHR actually delivers by June 30, 2012 this paper takes on considerably more relevance. That older citizens do not engage all that well is also a pretty big issue
p.s. Happy Australia Day!


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